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S. Hrg.







MAY 6, 2014
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THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware Chairman
CARL LEVIN, Michigan
TOM COBURN, Oklahoma
MARK L. PRYOR, Arkansas
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin
RAND PAUL, Kentucky
KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire
JOHN P. KILVINGTON, Deputy Staff Director
KEITH B. ASHDOWN, Minority Staff Director


JON TESTER, Montana, Chairman
MARK L. PRYOR, Arkansas
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin
RAND PAUL, Kentucky
TONY MCCLAIN, Majority Staff Director
BRENT BOMBACH, Minority Staff Director


Opening statement:
Senator Tester ..................................................................................................
Senator Portman ..............................................................................................
Senator Heitkamp ............................................................................................



TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014
Hon. Katherine Archuleta, Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management .....
Hon. Carol Waller Pope, Chairman, Federal Labor Relations Authority ...........
Jeri L. Buchholz, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration ..............................................
Paige Hinkle-Bowles, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy, U.S. Department of Defense .......................................................
J. David Cox Sr., National President, American Federation of Government
Employees .............................................................................................................
Colleen M. Kelley, National President, National Treasury Employees Union ...
Carol A. Bonosaro, President, Senior Executives Association .............................
Max Stier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Partnership for Public
Service ...................................................................................................................




Archuleta, Hon. Katherine:

Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Bonosaro, Carol A.:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Buchholz, Jeri L.:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Cox, J. David Sr.:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Hinkle-Bowles, Paige:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Kelley, Colleen M.:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Pope, Carol Waller:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................
Stier, Max:
Testimony ..........................................................................................................
Prepared statement ..........................................................................................


Information submitted by Mr. Stier .......................................................................
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, prepared statement .................
National Education Association, prepared statement ..........................................
Presidential Management Fellow, prepared statement ........................................



Responses to post-hearing questions for the Record:

Ms. Archuleta ....................................................................................................
Ms. Buchholz .....................................................................................................
Ms. Hinkle-Bowles ............................................................................................



TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

Washington, DC.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:45 p.m., in room
SD342, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Jon Tester, Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
Present: Senators Tester, Begich, Heitkamp, and Portman.

Senator TESTER. Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here.
There are several coming, including Ranking Member Portman, but
it is great to have the folks from both panels here today. I appreciate the opportunity. I call to order this hearing of the Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and
the Federal Workforce.
Todays hearing is titled, A More Efficient and Effective Government: Cultivating the Federal Workforce. We have assembled two
great panels of witnesses today. I want to thank you for joining us
to share your perspectives on this important issue.
A lot of folks in Washington like to demand an efficient and effective Federal Government, but you would never know it judging
by the way they often treat the Federal workers. Instead of investing in new initiatives that allow agencies to better recruit, cultivate, and retain a quality and experienced Federal workforce, it
seems that more and more politicians use these folks as a punching
bag when the budget season rolls around. Retirement benefits are
targeted. Pay and hiring freezes are instituted. Training and travel
budgets are zeroed out. And then along comes a sequester, followed
by a government shutdown.
For some folks, sequestration and the shutdown were about scoring political points. For others, they were opportunities to shake
their heads and bemoan the state of affairs here in Washington,
D.C. For Federal workers, sequestration and the shutdown kept
them from work and threatened their livelihoods. Equally as damaging, it implied that their work is not essential. Well, guess what.
We all know that is not true. Federal workers did not cause our

budget problems and they should not be the scapegoats for those
trying to score political points. Sequestration and the shutdown
never should have happened because they sent the wrong message
about the value of public service.
The Federal workforce is not a faceless or nameless group of
folks showing up simply to get a check every day. It is the nurse
working late every night, sometimes shuttling back and forth between Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities and buildings in Helena some
240 miles one way to ensure that the shifts are covered and that
our veterans receive the quality care that they have earned and deserve. Or, it is the Farm Service Agency loan officer working closely with farmers to ensure that they are making informed decisions
for them, their family, and their business. It is the Border Patrol
Agent covering hundreds of miles of dangerous terrain along the
Northern border in the dead of night, working to ensure that our
borders are secure and our citizens and communities are safe. It is
the Park Ranger taking the time to educate school children about
wildfires and who, when the fire season starts up again, risks his
life to protect our homes and our forests. These men and women
and countless others should be recognized for how hard they work
on our behalf.
If we truly seek an effective and efficient government, we need
to ensure that Federal workers are able to make a living doing
their jobs and we need to ensure that they have opportunities to
grow and feel valued in their jobs. It is discouraging to see recent
studies depicting low morale at many Federal agencies. Governmentwide Federal employee job satisfaction rates are at an all-time
Todays hearing will discuss the challenges before us, highlight
agency and governmentwide successes, and seek to identify smart
solutions that keep the Federal workplace dynamic and rewarding.
Our first panel today will provide the agency perspective on
these issues and our second panel will provide the perspective of
the employee. I look forward to the discussion. I again thank everybody for being here.
Senator Portman will be here shortly, and Senator Heitkamp
will, too, and there may be others that show. When Senator
Portman gets here, we will do his opening statement. What I am
going to do right now is I am going to introduce the first panel of
We are fortunate to have assembled two great panels of witnesses. The first consists of Federal agencies, both large and small,
who will share their perspective on Federal workforce issues.
Katherine Archuleta is the Director of the Office of Personnel
Management (OPM), and I was pleased to preside over Katherines
nomination hearing last year and have been impressed with her
leadership that she has brought to that agency. One of OPMs chief
tasks is to build a Federal workforce that is innovative, diverse,
and versatile. Today, we discuss some of the policies and initiatives
implemented by OPM, highlight its successes, and discuss some of
its challenges moving forward. And, I want to welcome you, Katherine, to the Committee hearing today.
Carol Waller Pope is the Chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). I also had the privilege of presiding over

Carols nomination hearing and have been very appreciative of her
leadership at FLRA. In recent years, FLRA has made significant
strides in improving workforce morale and job satisfaction rates.
Today, Carol will share some of FLRAs lessons learned and provide the perspective of a smaller agency in tackling various workforce issues. Welcome to you, Carol.
We also have Jeri Buchholz. Now, I have to tell you, as a sidebar,
and I told my staff this, we have some folks in my hometown who
spell the name the same way, but it is pronounced Boo-holse.
But, we are going to call you Buck-holse. Hopefully, that is correct. Jeri is Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). For the second year in a row, NASA has been selected as
the Best Place to Work in Government. These rankings are compiled from employee feedback on job and agency satisfaction and
whether employees recommend their agency as a good place to
work. Today, we hope Jeri will let us in on NASAs secret and
share some of the initiatives that have allowed the agency to
achieve such high rates of employee satisfaction. Welcome, Jeri.
And then we have Paige Hinkle-Bowles, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy. At the
Defense Department (DOD), Paige is responsible for civilian workforce development and sustainment, performance management, and
leader development. The policy she helps develop and carry out ultimately impact more than 900,000 civilian defense employees
worldwide. Welcome, Paige.
It is our custom to swear all witnesses who appear before the
Subcommittee, so if you do not mind, please stand and answer in
the affirmative or the negative, whichever applies to you.
Do you swear that the testimony you will give before this Subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you, God?
Ms. POPE. I do.
Senator TESTER. Let the record reflect that the witnesses answered in the affirmative.
We are going to start with the testimony. Each of you have 5
minutes for oral statements. Please summarize your statements as
much as possible. Please stick as close to the 5-minutes as you possibly can. You folks have been here before. You know how it goes.
Know that your complete written testimony will be included in the
With that, Katherine, would you please get us started.


Ms. ARCHULETA. Thank you, Chairman Tester and Members of

the Subcommittee, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to
appear before you today to discuss the state of the Federal workforce.
This week, we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week to recognize the service of Federal employees. Those who have answered
the call of public service and especially those who have given their
lives deserve our gratitude for their contributions to our country.
Circumstances such as the 3-year pay freeze, sequestration, the
government shutdown, and reductions in budgets have presented
serious challenges to our Federal workforce. One of my top priorities as the Director of OPM is to enhance employee satisfaction
and engagement. In our strategic plan, one of OPMs goals is to
provide leadership to help agencies create inclusive work environments where a diverse Federal workforce is fully engaged and energized to put forth its best effort, achieve its agencys mission, and
remain committed to public service.
I am working closely with the Chief Human Capital Officers
(CHCO) Council, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the
National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations, and
agency leaders to address employee satisfaction and engagement.
One tool that measures employee satisfaction and engagement is
the Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). The survey is
designed to provide agencies with valuable information on employee satisfaction, commitment, engagement, and retention.
The 2013 FEVS governmentwide results reveal that more than
80 percent of the Federal employees who responded like the work
they do and understand how their work relates to their agencys
goals and priorities. However, there were decreases in all four
human capital indices as well as in employee engagement and global satisfaction.
OPM is committed to working with agencies to provide the tools
needed to improve employee satisfaction and engagement. To assist
agencies, we have developed an online tool which provides data for
agencies to use in order to better understand their FEVS results.
That data is being used by managers and supervisors across government to improve employee engagement and to identify best
practices and processes that lead to progress.
The Presidents Management Agenda will also facilitate a more
effective and efficient government that is supportive of economic
growth. One of the four pillars of the Management Agenda is people and culture, where OPM plays a pivotal role. OPM believes
that an engaged, inclusive, and diverse Federal workforce is critical
to the Federal Governments success.
In seeking to create a culture of excellence and engagement to
enable higher performance, three initiatives have been identified:
GovConnect, to help all agencies test and scale talent exchange;
GovU, an enterprise learning and development resource exchange
which is modeled after our own Human Resources University
1 The

prepared statement of Ms. Archuleta appears in the Appendix on page 43.

(HRU); and a third initiative, to develop a data dashboard to drive
improvements to engagement in government operations.
A first class Federal workforce requires strong investments in
civil service leadership, and to that end, we are working with agencies to strengthen a senior executive service (SES)-wide leadership
and engagement training curriculum.
Finally, at a time when agencies are dealing with smaller budgets, fewer hiring decisions, and less experienced human resources
expertise, it becomes more critical than ever that agencies find the
best talent possible. OPM is committed to working with agencies
to reduce skills gaps, foster diversity in Federal employment, and
improve organizational outcomes.
Despite all the challenges, there is cause for optimism. Survey
results show that Federal employees continue to be committed to
serving the American people. Over 90 percent of FEVS respondents
reported the work they do is important, that they constantly look
for ways to do their jobs better, and that they are willing to put
an extra effort in to get the job done.
The survey reflects what I hear from Federal workers as I travel
across the country to meet with them. Time and time again, whenever I ask the question, why do you do what you do, the answer
is almost always the same, Because I feel a commitment to my
work and to the services I provide for the American people. That
is why each of us is here today.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I am
happy to address any questions you may have.
Senator TESTER. Well, thank you, Katherine. I appreciate your
comments. There absolutely will be questions. Thank you for your
Ms. ARCHULETA. Thank you.
Senator TESTER. Carol, you may proceed.

Ms. POPE. Good afternoon. I want to thank the Committee and,

in particular Senators Tester and Portman, for conducting this
hearing on a subject that is near and dear to my heartattracting,
engaging, and retaining a first-class, diverse workforce for the Federal Government.
I have been in public service as a part of the Federal workforce
my entire professional careerstarting as a career employee, and
thanks to this Committee and President Obama, as a Presidential
appointee. When I began working as a General Schedule (GS)9
Staff Attorney at the Department of Labor (DOL), the idea of being
the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRAs) Chairman was not
even a dream. Serving as Chairman is an honor beyond measure,
and I believe that my story speaks to employee engagement, succession planning, and a commitment to mission performance. I salute all career Federal employees who are on a similar professional
journey for their public service.
Before addressing our efforts to cultivate the FLRAs internal
workforce, I would like to talk about the FLRAs mission. The
1 The

prepared statement of Ms. Pope appears in the Appendix on page 51.

FLRA exists to promote stable, constructive labor-management relationships throughout the Federal Government and to resolve disputes in a manner that contributes to an effective and efficient government. That is, our customers are the management and labor
components of the Federal workforce. This means that day in and
day out, our employees are working to assist other Federal employees, whether management or laborto accomplish the work of the
government in a way that enhances mission performance and, we
hope, employee engagement and satisfaction.
While the FLRAs business is assisting other Federal agencies
and unions, I am here to address our efforts to engage the FLRAs
workforce in order to improve our mission performance and our employee satisfaction.
With the collaborative efforts of the FLRAs senior leadership
and career employees at all levels, we have achieved nearly unprecedented improvements in employee morale over the last 5 years. To
set the stage, in 2008, the FLRA was not only at the bottom of employee-satisfaction rankings for small agencies, it was below the
bottom. That is right, below the bottom. In 2008, the Partnership
for Public Service (PPS) excluded the FLRAs scores on the Employee Viewpoint Survey from the small-agency calculations because the FLRAs scores were so low they skewed the ranking of
other agencies. We busted the curve in the wrong direction.
The next time the survey was conducted, 2010, the FLRA showed
a 250 percent improvement in employee satisfaction and an over400 percent increase in effective leadership. I am told that the statisticians assumed there was a mistake and triple-checked their calculations, but there was no mistake. The FLRA moved from last
place to 20th in the small-agency rankings with a still unbeaten
250 percent increase in overall employee satisfaction. Again, the
FLRA busted the curve, but this time in the right direction. We are
still moving forward. We were No. 7 in the overall rankings in
2011, and with the decrease overall in government rankings, as Director Archuleta referred to, we were No. 8 in 2012 and 2013.
So, what exactly did we do to achieve these results? I believe it
is that FLRA employees and leadership undertook sincere, sustained efforts to focus on the core values of transparency and accountability. And we focused on mission accomplishment. These
were not pro forma efforts. They were real and substantive, and
they began with recognition that, from top to bottom and side to
side, FLRA employees are deeply committed to the mission of the
agency and the work that they perform.
FLRAs leadership clearly communicated its belief that employees did important work and did it well. This resonated with employees. It probably contributed to that difficult to describe synergy
that occurs when employees start to feel valued. One of the tangible things, increasing our communication. We embraced the ideas
of revitalization, reinvention, and reengagement, both as to our
customers and our employees. We started a weekly newsletter. We
started to ask for employee involvement and input with respect to
how to improve our mission performance, how to improve employee
We took the survey results seriously and we drilled down and
conducted, using our labor-management forum, our own internal

survey. To the extent one of our challenges was employees feeling
under-resourced and overworked, we directed resources not only to
ask employees what resources were they lacking, but also to engage employees in how we could improve the work-life balance.
And with that initiative and under the directive of OPM, we initiated telework, and I am happy to say 80 percent of our employees
telework in some form or fashion.
Simply stated, we learned that successful efforts are multi-year
and multi-pronged. I was mistaken in 2009, my first year as Chairman, when I announced it was the Year of the FLRA Employee.
My mistake was that every year should be the year of the employee, not a single year. Long-term support of and engagement
with our employees resulted in improved efficiencies and mission
performance. I am happy to say that not only with regard to employee satisfaction: we reduced case backlogs, and we improved
timeliness and quality of our work. And I think that is what made
the difference with respect to employees, from a low in 2008, saying
the FLRA was not a place that they would recommend to their
friends to work, to a very different outcome now.
So, I am pleased to answer any questions you might have. I look
forward to this discussion. I would like to continue our work, because I realize there is more work to be done. While we have improved our mission performance, I know that I am not satisfied. I
did not come back as Chairman to burrow in and stay at the level
of satisfaction and mission performance that we are now. So, I look
forward to your questions and to learning from the other panelists
with respect to their successes and lessons learned.
Senator TESTER. Well, thank you for your testimony, Carol, and
thank you for your perspective. I think there always needs to be
room for improvement and we always need to take advantage of
that opportunity.
Jeri, you are going to let us in on the secrets of NASA. You may

Ms. BUCHHOLZ. Chairman Tester, Ranking Member Portman,

and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity
to testify today on the topic of employee morale and productivity
in the Federal workforce.
At NASA, employee morale and productivity begin with a unique
and exciting mission. Our orbiting outpost, the International Space
Station, is home to a crew of astronauts from America and across
the world who are conducting research and learning how to live
and work in space. We have scientists exploring with robotic spacecraft that are probing diverse regions of the solar system and the
vast regions of interstellar space. We will soon launch the James
Webb Space Telescope, which will allow our astrophysicists to see
back in time to the formation of the first stars and galaxies. Our
people are developing the aeronautics and space technologies for tomorrows missions, and we are preparing for a challenging mission
1 The

prepared statement of Ms. Buchholz appears in the Appendix on page 54.

to capture and redirect an asteroid for human explorationa stepping stone to future human exploration of Mars.
NASA is comprised of 35,000 contractors, 18,000 employees, 149
occupations, 10 centers, and one goal, to reach for new heights and
reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. But, like any
other large and complex organization, NASA faces management
challenges in ensuring that we continue to engage our workforce
and create a culture of innovation. Today, I would like to share
with you three components of NASAs strategy to address these
First, we focus on connecting people to each other and the mission every day. Connection begins at the top. The NASA Administrator, Charlie Bolden, fundamentally believes that communication
is the cornerstone to connection. He encourages every NASA staffer
to use his or her voice. He visits employees in their labs and at
their worksites to talk to them directly about their work and their
work life. The Administrator personally reviews the results of the
Employee Viewpoint Survey, an annual survey administered by the
U.S. Office of Personnel Management to Federal employees, down
to the Center level so he can understand how we are doing as an
agency and how we are doing in each major subcomponent.
To make people more connected to each other, we are working
hard to make geography inconsequential. We have made great improvements in effective virtual collaboration. We are able to conduct acquisition activities, panel interviews, international presentations, whole conferences in virtual space. This has become an integral part of NASA culture.
Second, we ensure that first-line supervisors appreciate the importance of developing innovative employees. A key to success in all
areas of workforce culture is the first-line supervisor. We infuse our
leadership values into potential leaders early in their careers. We
have agency-level leadership development programs as well as
leadership development programs at the Center level. These programs have a heavy emphasis on personal effectiveness, relating to
others, and self-reflection. Approximately 500 NASA employees
have gone through these programs.
Third, we recognize and reward innovative performance by moving past traditional monetary recognition. We use every tool that
is available to us as a Federal employer to recognize our employees
and their achievements, and we ask our employees to tell us what
kinds of rewards they find most meaningful. Ultimately, however,
there is no greater incentive to innovation than to have ones creativity recognized and incorporated into the NASA mission, and
there is no greater pride than being able to describe ones contributions to the public. We encourage our employees to do so through
a variety of means, including social media.
We are engaged in a constant search for better ways to work. We
model the behaviors that we expect from others. Over the past
year, we have worked to reinforce these principles by asking each
senior NASA leader to engage in a reverse mentoring relationship,
to be mentored by a junior employee in the agency on a topic of
his or her choice. This was a tremendously successful program that
gave NASA senior leadership the opportunity to walk a mile in anothers shoes.

In sum, we have a robust NASA strategy to engage our workforce and create a culture of innovation. We do this by connecting
our workforce to each other and the mission, by building model supervisors, and by recognizing and rewarding innovative performance. All of these efforts have paid off. We were not satisfied when
NASA was rated the Best Place to Work in 2012, we continued
to improve and were rated the Best Place to Work and Most Improved in 2013.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to be up here before you and I would be pleased to respond to any questions.
Senator TESTER. I appreciate your testimony Jeri, and there will
be questions, so thank you very much.
Last but not least, Paige, you are up to bat. Tell us about the

Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Thank you. Chairman Tester, Ranking

Member Portman, and Members of the Subcommittee, on behalf of
the Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, thank you for the opportunity to appear at todays hearing.
The Department shares the Subcommittees focus on achieving a
more efficient and effective government and we are wholly committed to the readiness, capability, and efficiency of our total force
to accomplish the Departments mission. Our people, to include our
valued Federal civilian workforce, are a central element of the Departments ability to serve the Nation. Our 900,000 civilians are
employed in more than 600 occupations in over 3,000 locations, to
include nearly 100 foreign countries and territories around the
world. The past few years have been challenging for the Department. However, our civilian employees continue to demonstrate resilience and a staunch commitment to the Departments mission
even during these challenging times.
One of the more recent high-profile impacts on the workforce was
the administrative furlough of the majority of our civilian employees last year. As one means to garner savings to meet sequestration mandates, we applied furlough actions in a consistent and equitable manner with few exceptions.
In reviewing the 2013 results of the Office of Personnel Managements annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, we confirmed
that the morale of the Departments civilian workforce had been
declining prior to the implementation of the furloughs, likely attributable to continued pay freezes and limited budgets. Survey responses indicated that our workforces satisfaction with pay, opportunities for growth and advancement, and the resources available
to get the job done have declined from previous years. However, the
results also showed that the Department continues to be strong in
the areas of personal commitment to achieving the mission, looking
for ways to do the job better, as well as work-life balance and job
satisfaction. These survey results provide the Departments leader1 The

prepared statement of Ms Hinkle-Bowles appears in the Appendix on page 57.

ship with valuable information and we are committed to addressing
workforce concerns.
We continue our comprehensive Strategic Workforce Planning
(SWP) efforts, which cover nearly 93 percent of the civilian population and include strategies carried out by 22 functional communities. These strategies involve direct contact and interaction with
civilian employees in the advancement of career broadening opportunities, enhancement of training and credentialing programs, and
development of employee career mapping.
We also note that approximately 13 percent of the Departments
civilian employees are currently eligible to retire, and we anticipate
that 30 percent of our civilian workforce will be eligible to retire
within the next 5 years. We are closely monitoring these trends,
recognizing the potential loss of critical skills and knowledge. To
mitigate long-term consequences, we continue to use available resources and authorities to hire into critical skills. We also continue
to lead the Federal Government in new veteran hires, retaining
their capability and valuable skill sets within the Department. Our
strategic workforce planning and recruitment efforts help us
achieve an optimal balance among our varied hiring sources.
Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for
fiscal year (FY) 2010 directed the Department to design and implement a new performance management system and authorized flexibilities relating to appointments. Following the comprehensive efforts of three design teams comprised of union and non-union DOD
employees called New Beginnings, the Department endorsed the
vast majority of the design teams recommendations for the new
In cooperation with the Departments national-level unions, we
are developing a new performance appraisal system which will include a multi-level rating pattern that links performance expectations to mission and organizational goals and that ensures regular
feedback during the appraisal cycle between the employees and rating officials. We believe such a system is critical to effective mission accomplishment, as well as increased employee morale and effectiveness.
I offer in closing that the Department values the work that our
civilians perform in support of our military. We recognize their
commitment to getting the job done, even during these challenging
times. We appreciate this years 1 percent pay increase that
brought the 3-year pay freeze to an end and the ability to once
again pay performance awards to our high-performing workforce.
Going forward, the Department is engaging in shaping our civilian
workforce to increase efficiencies, ensuring the workforce is motivated and has the skills needed for the future.
We thank you for your continued interest and support of the
DODs civilian workforce. I look forward to your questions.
Senator TESTER. Paige, thank you very much.
Senator Portman, I think what we will do is, because we can
then get multiple rounds in, we will do 5 minutes, and Senator
Portman, you may proceed.


Senator PORTMAN. Great. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate

your having this testimony today. It was great to have some of our
expert witnesses before us. Two of them, at least, went through our
Subcommittee for their confirmations and were successful.
I was the head of OMB at one point, the head of the United
States Trade Representative (USTR) at one point, had the opportunity to work with a lot of members of our Federal workforce, and
I came away with an impression that I think anyone in that position would have, which is we have a lot of really talented people
in the Federal workforce who are there for the right reasons, committed to public service, work hard. They are focused on the mission and objective of the agency across different political parties
and different administrations.
I also had to experience what it is like to work under a tight
budget, because we had tight budgets then, even tighter now. How
do you boost morale and productivity, and I was interested in what
NASA had to say today about that, because you guys have actually
lived under some tighter budgets and yet you kept your morale up.
But, the bottom line is that people are ultimately what matters
the most, and how to promote that common mission to incentivize
people to work hard toward that mission is critical. You talked
about identifying and rewarding success today a little bit, and I
think that is one of the key challenges in the Federal Civil Service
We are dealing with a tougher budget. We are looking at $17 trillion in debt right now and another budget deficit this year of probably over $500 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
says it gets worse over the next 10 years, so this pressure is not
going to go away. And the Federal workforce is expensive. I mean,
it is about 26 percent of the total discretionary spending in 2012.
So, we have to figure out how to deal with these tough fiscal times,
again, that even get tougher going forward, and we have more and
more pressure coming from the entitlement side and discretionary
spending under more and more pressure.
So, this is a very helpful hearing to talk about how do we do
more with less, which is the goal, and how do we adapt and innovate and thrive and continue to attract great people.
The challenges are out there. Ms. Hinkle-Bowles talked a little
about DODs challenge. Today, only 14 percent of the two million
permanent career employees are eligible for retirement. Over the
next 3 years alone, that number more than doubles, to 31 percent.
I think you said 30 percent at DOD. So, this is obviously an issue,
of people retiring.
Meanwhile, we are not attracting the young people that we
should be, and I think the Federal workforce now has only 6 percent under the age of 30. By comparison, in the private sector, it
is about 23 percent. So, this begs the question, why is the Federal
Government struggling to attract talented young people in particular?
I appreciated hearing from NASA today and other witnesses
about how do we manage our high-skilled science technology workforce? How do you recruit these folks? How do you retain them,
given the fact that they often have better opportunities in the pri-

vate sector, for our future military capabilities, for science and exploration, for dealing with cybersecurity, some of these really difficult technical problems. We have to figure out a way to show
some flexibility, I believe, on the Federal workforce side.
So, we have heard a variety of views from you all and I look forward to continuing after my round here with some questions.
I will say on NASA, because NASA Glenn is in my home State
of Ohio, 1 of the 10 facilities, I am very proud of the work that we
have done there and I think it is an example of an agency that has
managed, despite a decline in spending, to do very well in attracting and retaining people. Despite a decline of $1 billion in funding
between 2010 and 2014, NASA ranks No. 1 out of the 19 large
agencies on the Partnership for Public Services Best Places to
Work in their 2013 survey. And you indicated that, that you have
had some luck retaining folks.
At NASA Glenn, we have 1,700 folks there. Funding has been
tight, a 15 percent drop in funding in the last decade and plenty
of challenges. But, people feel pretty good about working there. In
fact, among the 10 centers, we have gone up to No. 5 in terms of
the Best Place to Work. I will say that, again, we have challenges
there, because we do have a lot of folks there who are near retirement age or qualifying for retirement in the next couple of years.
So, again, I look forward to asking more questions in a moment
and appreciate Chairman Tester holding this hearing, and I thank
the witnesses for coming to share their views.
Senator TESTER. Thanks, Senator Portman.
I have a few questions for you, Katherine, and then we will move
down the line. From a historical perspective, where are we in the
overall size of the Federal Government workforce?
Ms. ARCHULETA. Well, sir, the number of employees continues to
drop. We are a little over two million, and so that continues to hold
pretty steady. We are looking at how we cannot only maintain
those numbers with our limited resources, but also how do we grow
that in the critical areas that are needed by departments and agencies.
Senator TESTER. So, where were we at 10 or 15 years ago? Do
Ms. ARCHULETA. I am sorry, I do not know that number. I would
be glad to get that for you.
Senator TESTER. That would be great. And then, I guess the next
question would be, assuming that it is less, and I am sure it is,
quite frankly
Ms. ARCHULETA. It is about 1.9, justright around that number.
Senator TESTER. What has been used to fill the gap with fewer
Ms. ARCHULETA. The issues of how we fill the gap is making sure
that we have trained the employees that we do have on board,
making sure that they are able to do the work. We have had to
make some obvious, decisions. Each manager makes decisions on
how it will be able to continue to deliver its services with the number of employees that it has.
I am very hesitant, Senators, and I am sure you are, to ask employees to do more with less. So, we are looking at where are the
most important aspects of each mission that we have, and I think,

as the other witnesses have testified, it really takes the leadership
of each agency to determine what are the most important aspects
to fulfill its mission needs. And so those decisions are made at the
leadership level. We try to work very closely with each of the departments and agencies to make sure that they have the skills
available to them.
Senator TESTER. This is for Katherine, but any of you can answer
it if you have an answer for itseveral of you talked about the government shutdown, pay freezes. Have these events, or are there
other ones you could add to the listthe sequestration, potentiallyhave they impacted recruitment and retention, No. 1? And,
No. 2, what have you done to mitigate it if they have? Let us start
with you, Katherine.
Ms. ARCHULETA. Well, certainly, the impact of pay freezes, sequestration, furloughs is on the front page of many newspapers
across the country and certainly has its impact on how we recruit.
However, I would say, Senator, that when I go out about the country, there is still a strong interest in public service.
Senator TESTER. Good. All right. Katherinedoes anybody else
want to answer that? I mean, have you had any?
The application process for somebody who wants to look for a career, I will tell you the complaints, you tell me if it has changed.
The complaint is, you will apply for a job and it may be months
or longerbefore you hear back that there is any interest. You get
a call. You may or may not have already found a different job by
then. You probably have. We may be missing out on some good personnel. What does the current process look like? How long does it
take, on average? And, is there anything we are doing to shut that
I can tell you that, in my office, when we look for a person, we
usually have this thing done within 10 days to 2 weeks, because
if we do not hire them, then Portman or Heitkamp will hire them
before I get a chance to. So, I have to get them quick, OK. [Laughter.]
So, what does the process look like? What are we doing to speed
that process up? And I would talk to the others on that, too, when
you are talking about hiring.
Senator TESTER. Go ahead, Katherine.
Ms. ARCHULETA. Thank you, Senator. This is a topic that you
and I are very concerned about and I welcome the opportunity to
talk not only about it today, but after.
The USAJobs portal is a very important one. All jobs for the Federal Government are posted there and applications flow through
there. One of the concerns you expressed to me, as did other Members of this Committee, is how efficient and how effective is it, and
I am pleased to tell you that in the last 6 months, I have been focused in on USAJobs and we are looking at it from a lot of different
First of all, the application process. As the applicant goes into
USAJobs, indeed, what does it take to get their resume through it?
And as that application flows through the process, I am looking at
each spot that their application touches. I am involving in that discussion not only the hiring managers, to make sure that we have

the right information on USAJobs, but also taking a look at it
through our information technology (IT) experts to make sure that,
in fact, at each point, that there is not some IT issue that prevents
us from getting that information to USA Staffing and then on to
hiring managers.
I can assure you that we are looking at it step by step. We are
trying to untie all those knots, because I am as concerned as you
are that it takes that long.
Senator TESTER. Right. Carol, you have a fairly small agency.
What is your hiring timeline?
Ms. POPE. We have been successful in reducing it by using alternative sources to assist our Human Resources office, such as OPM.
We do not have a problem with recruitment, given the economy.
Senator TESTER. Right.
Ms. POPE. If we post for an attorney entry-level job, we get hundreds of applicants nationwide.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. POPE. But, we have looked to reduce the amount of time it
takes to bring someone on board, and we have been successful on
that where we have the smaller H.R. office
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. POPE. And we have made it a priority, initially, when we had
a lot of vacancies, to staff up H.R. first, because we realized that
was a linkage to bringing on a talented, diverse workforce.
Senator TESTER. So, you have reduced it by how much?
Ms. POPE. We were not hiring
Senator TESTER. Right.
Ms. POPE [continuing]. So we do not have a good track record
with how long it took us to hire, because for a long time, we were
not filling vacancies. But, we are now successful with respect to 4
to 6 weeks, depending on the job.
Senator TESTER. Jeri, do you want to talk about NASA?
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. We have been working really hard to streamline
our hiring process using information technology and systems. We
have an issue of abundant workload when we put out a vacancy
Senator TESTER. Right.
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. NASA is ranked No. 1 in a study by Universum
as the ideal employer for engineers, outscoring Apple and Google
and all other high-tech employers. So, when we put out a vacancy
announcement, lots and lots and lots of people apply. So, one of the
things that we are having to manage is very large workload volume, and so we use our systems to do that. We have brought our
average hiring time to about 90 days, but certain occupations take
much longer. For example, astronauts take a much longer period.
Senator TESTER. Got you. I got you on that, and they probably
should. [Laughter.]
Paige, do you want to talk about the civilian workforce at DOD.
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Yes, sir. Our DOD-wide average time to
hire is about 74 days across the entirety of DOD. We do that by
using direct hire authorities, Schedule A hiring authorities, other
special authorities that we have to reach particular occupations. As
I mentioned earlier, we also do very robust veteran hiring. In our

last 6 months of hiring, 53 percent of our new hires were veterans
Senator TESTER. That is good.
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES [continuing]. So, that is a great talent pool
to pull from.
Senator TESTER. Well, I would hope we would work to make it
as lean and mean as possible to get it down. Senator Heitkamp.

Senator HEITKAMP. Thanks so much, Senator Tester.

I am just going to read off a list of agencies here: Social Security
(SSA), Department of Interior (DOI), DOD Civilian Defense, Federal Law Enforcement, Tribal Social Workers, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Forest Service. All of these
people call me and complain. Because they do not get paid enough
to live in my State.
It has been enormously frustrating. You could read any number
of reports, from listening to statements that Williston, North Dakota, has a higher rent schedule than New York City. But yet you
all have been slow to respond. Well, obviously, NASA is not present
in North Dakota and you do not have a presence, but I think the
Federal Government has been incredibly slow, and the consequences of that has been really threefold.
No. 1, people leave, and when people leave, it costs you money
and time to recruit. It costs you money to train. And, a lot of times,
you cannot replace that worker. And I will tell you, I have Farm
Service Agencies in North Dakota that have had vacancies for not
just months, but almost years, and we have a new farm bill we
need to implement. No people. And I know that a lot of these agencies have contacted both, Paige, your organization, and, Katherine,
yours, begging to get some attention to this problem, because we
cannot continue to not serve the public.
Now, I would tell you, ironically, some of the biggest complainers
about not having a workforce out there are the industries that you
serve, whether it is an oil field company that needs a permit to do
something, or whether it, in fact, is a contractor who needs to be
able to hire people to operate on the air base.
And so this is not make believe in North Dakota. This is real.
And the civilian workforce, not just in Minot, but also in Grand
Forks, as you know very well, Katherine, has huge problems in recruitment and retention in North Dakota.
So, the inability of us to respond to the needs of the Federal
workforce has, in fact, stymied development, and I will give you an
example. Not getting people at the Bureau of Land Management
(BLM), not getting people at BIA, has meant that rigs have moved
off the reservation, where people clearly could use those resources.
They have moved off the reservation and they are going someplace
else where they do not need to deal with a Federal agency.
I do not think we can fix this problem today, but I think it is
critically important that you guys start paying attention to what is
happening in North Dakota to the Federal workforce, because this
is not make believe. I think Senator Tester would join me as we
look at building out Federal law enforcement to meet the needs.

The corner of his State in Northeast Montana is affected exactly
the same way.
I would like a commitment today that we are actually going to
have a very real discussion about this and come up with solutions
on how we can secure a Federal workforce for my State, so
Ms. ARCHULETA. Senator, I would welcome the opportunity to sit
down and talk to you about this further, because I think we are
approaching this since I came to OPM in several different ways.
Most particularly, we are working with our hiring managers to
make sure that they understand what authorities they have to
hire. In several cases
Senator HEITKAMP. Can we just for a moment, though, Katherine, talk about retention of the workforce you have
Senator HEITKAMP [continuing]. Because, it is 6 months, 7
months to hire someone to do child protection work on the reservation, is not my idea of where I want to go. I want to retain the
worker that I have who has already done that work. And so, what
are we going to do to deal with an adjustment somehow in pay or
in supplement on housing that will retain the workers that we
Senator HEITKAMP. And then we can talk about retentionor recruitment.
Ms. ARCHULETA. I understand. Thank you, Senator. Again, I
would reiterate my desire to work with you very closely on each of
these cases.
There are pay authorities that allow us to do retention incentives. And, again, I want to be sure that, as we work with each of
these agencies, that the managers really understand what authorities they have available to them. And what I have foundnot always the case, but in some cases, we have been able to assist with
not new authorities, but new information so that the managers understand that they have these retention incentives especially in geographic regions where it is hard to recruit and retain employees,
we especially want to work with these agencies to help ensure that
they can not only recruit, but retain the employees.
Senator HEITKAMP. Great.
Ms. ARCHULETA. So, I would very much like to have that opportunity to sit with you and talk.
Senator HEITKAMP. I am running out of time, but Paige, twice,
I think, your agency has denied adjustments to the civilian workforce on the Minot Air Force Base. Can you explain why you would
do that in light of our challenges, especially in Minot, where we
had a flood that wiped out a lot of affordable housing, where housing costs are astronomical?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Yes, maam. We have worked with the Department of the Air Force specifically with Minot Air Force Base
on some of their requests for different salary rates. The data that
we have, that our staff has analyzed, had shown that we did not
see the significant recruitment and retention challenges you described. But, I will offer to take that back and certainly have a
more deliberate discussion with you or your staff on that. We do

in the Department have capabilities for establishing special salary
rates and also to use the recruitment and retention incentives.
Senator HEITKAMP. And to Katherines point, they tried to get
approval to make the adjustments and twice you said there really
are not problems out there. Now, I can tell you, there are problems
recruiting engineers onto the Air Force Base. This is, for very many
of the people I talk to in the civilian workforce, they are very discouraged, because what happens when you do not recognize their
current living conditions is that they do not feel valued. They do
not feel understood and they do not feel valued, and let me tell you,
a guy who can do heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC)
work, he can walk with his feet right off your facility and never
come back and never look back, and good luck hiring a new one.
Good luck hiring an engineer. Good luck hiring an electrician or a
plumber. These are essential to fulfilling the mission of the Grand
Forks and Minot, in particular, Air Force Bases.
I just feel like I have to plead their case here, because this is not
make believe. This is true and we see it every day. And you cannot
see stories that tell you that the rental rates in these communities
are higher than New York City and then not think that we have
a problem and we do not need to address it.
Senator TESTER. Senator Portman.
Senator PORTMAN. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
First, to Ms. Buchholz on NASA Glenn in particular. Looking at
NASAs overall numbers, 52 percent of workers are over the age of
50. Sixty percent of NASA Glenns workers are over the age of 50.
And I know this is not a unique problem to NASA, as we talked
about earlier, but what are you doing to address this issue? Do you
think the aging workforce is a threat to the long-term health of the
research and development (R&D) program at NASA, and NASA
Glenn specifically, and can you explain why it is happening and
what steps are you taking to ensure that this incredible wealth of
knowledge is not lost.
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. So, one of the interesting things about NASA employees is that they have one of the longest lengths of service in
the entire Federal Government, almost 19 years, on average. And
what we find is, although people are eligible to retire, they do not
often retire as soon as they can walk out the door.
So, a really interesting data point comes from the Employee
Viewpoint Survey, which actually asks employees about intent to
retire. And what we find is that about 13 percent of the NASA
workforce has indicated they intend to retire in the next 5 years,
which is a much lower number than the people who will actually
be eligible to retire.
We have very robust early career hiring programs and our intention is to go out, hire people early in their careers to come in and
have the opportunity to learn from the more experienced individuals before they decide to depart the workforce.
With 13 percent of the workforce intending to retire over a 5-year
period and our very low quit rate, our current recruitment and
staffing policies and procedures are sufficient to meet that level of
Senator PORTMAN. But, if folks are not leaving and you need to
replace a lot of people over the next, it sounds like, 20 years, and

you want to hire people as they are getting into their career rather
than mid-career or late-career, you obviously have a problem with
the limited budget that you have. And, I am not suggesting there
is any easy answer to that, but one is to try to keep the very best
people and provide more incentives for them to stay.
I talked in my opening statement about identifying and rewarding success and performance, and some of you talked about that
today. In this new normal we have, with the budget pressures, I
think innovative human resources practices generally are going to
be necessary to keep employees committed to their mission, and
you noted in your testimony that NASAs key to successful management is rewarding innovative performance by moving past traditional monetary recognition. You pointed out, There is no greater
incentive to innovation than to have ones creativity recognized and
incorporated into the mission, no greater pride than being able to
describe ones contributions to the public. Can you provide additional detail about some of these non-conventional or even nonmonetary methods you use to reward some of your top employees?
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. Over the past year, we have worked to develop
a new set of honorary awards that recognize innovative contributions to the agency. The first is called an Innovation Champion,
which is someone who is championing innovation in the workforce
and recognizing those efforts to spread innovation to a broader
range of people.
The second is an award we call Fail Fast, Learn Smart, meaning
that what we are looking for are people who have projects that did
not necessarily succeed on the first go around that learned something really important about that failure and then they were able
to apply that to the next test, the next version of their project, so
really encouraging people to take smart risks and learn from their
experiences and apply them going forward into their future.
And then simpler things, as well. We are developing an Innovation Coin that we are making available to all supervisors so that
they can do on-the-spot recognition of innovation when it occurs in
the workplace.
Senator PORTMAN. Do you think some of what you are talking
about could be replicated in the Federal workforce as a whole?
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. I think that Federal Government employees very
much appreciate being recognized, no matter what form it takes,
and what you need to do is find those things that really resonate
with your workforce, with the occupations and the work that you
have in your workforce and the contribution that they make to
serve the American people every day.
Senator PORTMAN. Thank you. My time is up. I do have some
questions for you, Ms. Hinkle-Bowles, regarding Wright-Patterson
that we will get to, hopefully, after the next round.
Senator TESTER. Paige talked about the fact that your agency
leads in veterans hires, and I applaud you for that. Did any other
of the agencies have specific things that they do to encourage veterans not only to apply, but that you give them preference in hiring? Jeri, I will start with you.
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. Veterans, five-point veterans and ten-point veterans, all have preference in the hiring process.
Senator TESTER. Right.

Ms. BUCHHOLZ. One of the things that we have done is when we
go out to college campuses, most college campuses now, especially
in engineering programs, have Veterans Program Coordinators at
the college.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. And so we are reaching directly out to the Veterans Program Coordinators at the colleges and universities, looking for those individuals who have always wanted to work for
NASA, who drew a picture of a Space Shuttle when they were 8
years old, and we are finding that there are large numbers of veterans on campuses pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees
in engineering and science that make a really good match for our
Senator TESTER. Good. Carol, is FLRA doing anything to encourage veterans to apply?
Ms. POPE. We have not had any additional initiatives, but certainly in our technical areas, our technical jobs, we found that employeesveterans who have learned skills through the military
have been particularly attracted to us with respect to our technology jobs.
Senator TESTER. Katherine, is there anything Federal Governmentwide that we are doing to encourage veterans to apply to jobs
that are available across the government?
Ms. ARCHULETA. Yes, Senator. I am pleased to report that we
have just reengaged the Veterans Employment Council, chaired by
Secretary Shinseki and Secretary Perez, and through that, we have
targeted two important initiatives as well as our ongoing commitment to hiring veterans, and those are in the areas of increasing
the number of women veterans, in particularto fill some of the
needed areas within the agencies. In addition, we are looking at retention of veterans as a priority within that Council.
Senator TESTER. OK. Thank you very much.
I want to dovetail onto what Senator Portman was talking about,
about the number of folks that are going to be retiring from the
workforce, I think potentially a third of them by 2017. I do not
know if your agency is falling that high or not, maybe higher, actually. But, are there steps that your agencies are takingI am going
to start with you, Paigeto cultivate and to be able to bring on
board the next generation of workers, particularly in the more
highly skilled management positions?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Yes, sir. Thank you for that question. As
mentioned earlier, we do have 13 percent of our population now eligible and we anticipate another third within the next 5 years. So,
we are taking those steps toward making sure that we are renewing the workforce.
We have a series of programs that we use when we reach out to
the colleges and universities, similar to the other agencies. We certainly use the Pathways Program to hire interns and recent college
graduates. While our numbers are not as high as we would have
liked them to be because of our latest restrictions in hiring, we now
have about 5,000 students on the rolls. We focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) hiring. We have
scholarship programs for students that are in those types of occupations. We also do have a program where we hire individuals at

the universities as student Ambassadors to the individual employees, or, excuse me, to the students that are there to try to encourage them to apply for positions with the Department of Defense.
Senator TESTER. How many campuses are you on?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Sir, right now, we are targeting four campuses.
Senator TESTER. OK. There are a couple in Montana that we
could probably utilize you on.
Jeri, is there anything that NASA is doing?
Ms. BUCHHOLZ. I think one of the things that we are doing that
would be very helpful to other Federal agencies is we have student
employment floors, a minimum number of full time equivalent
(FTE) that must be occupied by students. There are about 250 FTE
per year, which can be as many as 800 students, and each center
has an allocation and they are not permitted to go below that number. So, we have a really robust pipeline of early career people,
both undergraduate and graduate level, coming into the agency.
Senator TESTER. Good. Carol.
Ms. POPE. In the 5-years since I have been Chairman, we have
lost probably 40 percent of our workforce to retirement. Our average age is 48, and we expect nearly 25 percent to retireor are eligible to retire now. What we have done to address that is we focus
training and development resources on building leaders within. We
have primarily focused, because of our limited resources, on hiring
at the entry level. But with the workforce in place, we have looked
to develop future leaders. We have used cross-component training,
developmental details. Our entry-level supervisory jobs, by and
large, are filled internally, and we have been very successful in
providing support for first-level supervisors, and that has been a
real retention boost for us.
Senator TESTER. OK. Good. Senator Heitkamp.
Senator HEITKAMP. Just a couple more questions, and it goes to
this issue of recruitment and young people and the aging out of the
workforce. A lot of large institutions are going through exactly this
same problem today, and so, obviously, there is a difference between the Baby Boomers you see up here and the new workforce.
My question to you, Katherine, is, give me the two top reasons
why you think a young person would want to work for the Federal
Government, and I will use that broadly, and the two reasons why
they would not.
Ms. ARCHULETA. I think the two reasons I have heard
Senator HEITKAMP. That is kind of the point I wanted to make.
We really do not know, do we?
Ms. ARCHULETA. Well, I can speak from the conversations I have
Senator HEITKAMP. But, we have never done surveys. We have
never done kind of scientific analysis which would tell us, these are
the things that the millennials or the X-Generation or whatever it
Ms. ARCHULETA. That is
Senator HEITKAMP [continuing]. Whatever category we are going
to put them inthese are the reasons why they find this system
good or bad.
Ms. ARCHULETA. Not to my knowledge.

Senator HEITKAMP. And that is kind of a problem, I think. I am
not saying we need to adapt the Federal workforce for the new
kind of generational personality, but we may, in order to meet the
needs going forward. You can still answer the question. I just want
to make the point that you and I could speculate on what that is,
but we would not really know.
Ms. ARCHULETA. Well, based on the conversations that I have
had and I travel a lot around the country talking to university studentsthe first one is public service. And the second one, frankly,
is the diversity of opportunities within the Federal Government.
Obviously, if an IT or a STEM student chooses to go into Google,
they are pretty much in that one particular area. What I talk about
and what they talk about is the vast variety of opportunities that
government offers.
Senator HEITKAMP. OK. Well, what would be the reasons why
they would not want to work for the government?
Ms. ARCHULETA. I think, especially at the early years and especially in the STEM areas, pay is an important consideration.
Senator HEITKAMP. OK. What about status? Do you think that
Federal workers have taken a beating and
Ms. ARCHULETA. I have never heard that as a reason why they
would not consider.
Senator HEITKAMP. I want to just get to one point which has obviously been in the news and creates a concern for the American
public, which is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) bonuses. Take
a look at kind of those incentive payments and how do you respond
to someone who says, See, once again, management of a Federal
workforce, we let people get bonuses who owe the Federal Government money?
Ms. ARCHULETA. I think that is a particular interest, and I would
never try to paint the whole picture
Senator HEITKAMP. Sure.
Ms. ARCHULETA [continuing]. With the small paintbrush that
perhaps this would indicate. I think this is an important issue. It
is one that I am concerned about, and I understand your concern.
I think that as we do performance assessments, that we need to be
sure that they are based on the quality of work and the quantity
of work individuals are providing in the workforce. These are
issues, I think, that OPM is very concerned about and we are looking at very carefully in terms of conduct and the role conduct plays
in certainly this issue of performance awards.
Senator HEITKAMP. Yes. I guess, not to put too fine point on it,
but you can understand that this is the kind of publicity that does
not work very well for the Federal workforce.
Ms. ARCHULETA. I agree.
Senator HEITKAMP. And, no one here wants to say the whole system of rewards is not good. I mean, I think that there just has to
be a hyper-vigilance to any kind of bonus situation when you are
looking at a workforce that is as diverse as the Federal Government.
And one final question, and that really is on security clearances,
and I know that this has been a point of discussion at this table
in the past, but, obviously, there is another place where I think we
could get some further follow-on discussion with you about how we

can improve that system, speed up security clearances. Maybe
make those a bit more transparent in terms of how we decide we
are going to give security clearances to Federal employees and contractors.
Ms. ARCHULETA. Yes, Senator. As you know, the Presidents 120Day Plan has begun its implementation and I am working very
closely with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on these
Senator HEITKAMP. And when will we have a sense of how well
that plan is working?
Ms. ARCHULETA. The Director is charged, as the security executive agent, to review the number of clearances that are being
issued and I believe he is working on that right now.
Senator HEITKAMP. Thank you.
Senator TESTER. Senator Portman.
Senator PORTMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Hinkle-Bowles, I want to talk to you about the STEM workforce, also. We heard from NASA. You also have a lot of scientific
and research expertise, and you need to attract more and retain
what you have. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is in Ohio, as I
am sure you know. That is the home of AFIT, among other things.
The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) is basically your graduate school for the Air Force. However, it is also the Air Force Research Lab, which is critical not just to the Air Force, but also incredible military and private sector research.
I think it is fair to sayand I touched on this earlierthe most
important element that they have is not infrastructure, as important as that is, but just attracting and retaining the right talent.
In particular, it is important to be able to compete with the private
sector and get incredible individuals willing to work on things like
cybersecurity, engineering innovations, and other sciences.
In the 2004 DOD Authorization Act that was just signed into law
in December, there was a provision that required your boss, the
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to submit
a briefing to Congress within 90 days, which would have been due
at the end of March. The challenges to the management of the scientific and technical workforce of the Department and make recommendations for possible actions to improve such management.
We have not seen anything, and this Subcommittee, of course, is
very interested in that report. Can you tell us the status of this
briefing to Congress and share with us any of your preliminary
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Sir, we do have the presentation right now
drafted and we are ready to come up on the Hill to provide that
presentation to your staff. We have been working closely with the
right functional communities on those provisions and we are working on issuing the Federal Register notices that will launch some
of those provisions early this summer.
Senator PORTMAN. While we await the details of it, I would like
to get your thoughts on some of the management of the workforce.
Again, we are eager to get that report. We think it is a high priority, which is why we asked for it within 90 days. But, what is
the Department of Defense doing to attract and retain top sci-

entists right now within the workforce? What are some of the
things that you are already doing?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Sir, thank you for the question. I will talk
a little bit at the global level, or at the DOD level. I mentioned earlier that we do have a Strategic Workforce Plan in process. It covers 93 percent of our workforce. And that is then broken up into
22 different functional communities. So, at the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) level, we have executives that are responsible for individual functions, to include scientists and engineers.
We have engineering non-construction. We have IT. And those individual functional communities evaluate what are the skills they
need today and in the future, what gaps do they have, and they
build independent strategies for recruitment and retention that will
address those particular occupations.
Senator PORTMAN. Do you think the hiring process is too slow
and cumbersome, per the Chairmans earlier questions?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. I think we have opportunities there for improvement. We are always working to streamline where we can.
But, as several of my colleagues have mentioned, I do think we
have made tremendous strides in the last few years.
Senator PORTMAN. When you include benefits, do you think you
have competitive pay packages?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. I am sorry, sir?
Senator PORTMAN. Do you think you have competitive pay packages for your STEM workforce?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Yes, sir. I think the Federal Government,
as a whole, does have a competitive benefits package.
Senator PORTMAN. Let me ask you about a particular, authority
with which I became involved when I was on the Armed Services
Committee. In fact, I was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee there. I talked to the Department of Defense acquisition
and technology folks, including a couple of your colleagues, Mr.
Kendall and Mr. Lemnios. At that time, we were reviewing an extension of what is called direct hire. They said that they needed
more flexibility, and that this authority was critically important.
Mr. Kendall stated, anything that gives us flexibility to bring talent to the workforce is good.
As you know, at that time there was a sunset provision on direct
hire. In that years DOD authorization bill, we were able to get
that authority extended. We removed the sunset provision, making
it permanent. I wonder if you could talk about that. Have you been
using direct hire authority over the past 2 years? Has it been an
effective tool to get talent in the door and, again, to be able to compete effectively with some of the private sector opportunities?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Yes, sir, we do use all of those available authorities, specifically direct hire. We also do have an expedited hiring authority for acquisition, and then we have a Schedule A hiring
authority specific to cyber occupations. And so, all of those combined, we find to be effective.
And then, as I had mentioned earlier, we do have tremendous
amounts of talent in the military, that as those individuals separate from the service, we can reach back into that talent pool using
all the different veterans hiring authorities available to us.

Senator PORTMAN. Does your current direct hire authority give
you what you need to go around the requirements of the bureaucracy and hire somebody quickly when appropriate?
Ms. HINKLE-BOWLES. Sir, I believe that we do, but if I can take
that for the record, I will get more information back to you.
Senator PORTMAN. Yes. We would like to hear from you on that.
My time is up. I appreciate the hard work that all four of you
are doing to attract and retain good people. I think Ms. Archuleta
and I have a little difference of opinion on this notion of doing more
with less. I will just tell you that we are going to be under pressure. As much as you might like to think the Federal workforce is
going to get more funds out of the budget, I do not see us making
the progress we should be making on the other two-thirds of the
budget. Within 10 years, 75 percent or more of the budget that is
on auto-pilot that is not part of the Federal workforce but rather
is on the mandatory side, and that puts a lot of pressure, even if
we did not have these enormous deficits and historic level of debt.
We need to figure out how to be smarter, more innovative, and attractive the best and brightest. We need to be as productive as possible.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all.
Senator TESTER. Well, thank you, Senator Portman. We definitely do have challenges ahead of us. Working together, I think
both parties and agencies we can come to a conclusion that will
work for everybody.
There will be an opportunity for questions for the record. I actually am going to have some questions for you, Katherine, on the security workforce and security clearances with the use of the situation where the oversight is for the contractors and what role the
Federal employees are going to play in that, because that is a huge
Somebody said in their opening remarks, and I do not remember
which one of you, that one of the opportunities we have in a hearing like this is to be able to listen to other folks on the panel and
learn from them. I hope everybody did do that, because I think everybody brings some things to the table that other agencies can utilize, especially when it comes to recruitment, morale, and retention.
So, I want to thank you all for the time that you spent here
today, and like I said, there will be an opportunity for additional
questions, not only from us but for the folks who did not come to
this Committee hearing, so thank you all very much.
We are going to go to our second panel, which includes stakeholders from the Federal employee and public service communities.
I will let you get set up here and then I will introduce the second
panel of witnesses.
Our second panel of witnesses includes stakeholders from the
Federal employee and public service communities.
J. David Cox is the National President for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). AFGE is the largest Federal employee union, representing 650,000 government workers.
Before joining the leadership at AFGE, David was a registered

nurse and served for over 20 years at the VA. Thank you for your
service there, David, and we want to welcome you here today.
We have Colleen Kelley, who is the National President for the
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). The NTEU is the
Nations largest independent Federal sector union, representing
150,000 employees. I should note that Colleen has distinguished
herself as a leader in the ongoing fight to curb waste and abuse
in government contracting, a fight worth fighting. Thank you, Colleen, and welcome.
We have Carol Bonosaro, who is the President of the Senior Executives Association (SEA). SEA is a nonprofit professional organization that advocates for the interests of both active and retired career Federal executives. Carols long history of Federal service
spans from her start as an intern at the Bureau of Budget to the
senior leadership positions at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
It is good to see you again, Carol. Welcome.
And last is Max Stier, who is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Partnership for Public Service. The Partnership
actively promotes public service, provides assistance to Federal
agencies to improve their operations and leadership capacity, and
advocates for legislative and regulatory reforms. They also generate
valuable research on the workforce challenges that face the Federal
Government. Welcome, Max. We look forward to hearing your testimony.
As with the previous panel, we are going to have an oath, if you
would please stand and either answer in the affirmative or the negative, whichever you would prefer.
Do you swear the testimony you will give before this Subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you, God?
Mr. COX. I do.
Ms. KELLEY. I do.
Mr. STIER. I do.
Senator TESTER. Let the record reflect that all the witnesses answered in the affirmative.
As with the previous panel, you will each have 5 minutes for oral
statements. As I said with the first panel, please summarize your
statements as much as possible so we can stick to the 5-minute
clock so that we have time for questions. Your complete written
testimony will be a part of the record.
David, please proceed and get us started.

Mr. COX. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank

you very much for the opportunity to testify today.
Starting with the 3-year pay freeze initiated by President
Obama, which first took effect in 2010, these years have been relentlessly and unjustifiably harsh toward Federal employees and
their families. Federal workers hired in 2013 are forced to pay an
extra 2.3 percent of salary to their pensions because their salaries
1 The

prepared statement of Mr. Cox appears in the Appendix on page 64.

were used to pay for the 2012 extension of unemployment insurance. And those hired starting last year must pay an extra 3.6 percent of their salary because of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.
They are paying more not because the system was underfunded,
but because their salaries are a convenient automated teller machine (ATM) for budget agreements.
Let me try to put that sacrifice in concrete terms, Mr. Chairman.
Right now, the Montana VA Hospital in Fort Harrison is hiring a
dental assistant at about $32,000 a year. That new employee will
pay more than $1,100 more than someone in the exact same job
and hospital hired in 2012 or before. How these employees will ever
be able to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is beyond
The phony argument for forcing increased retirement contributions is that doing so brings us in line with the private sector. But,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 96 percent of
private sector defined benefit plans do not charge employees one
red cent, a horrible policy based on false assumptions. Mr. Chairman, if this policy is not modified or repealed, it will impoverish
an entire generation of Federal employees.
Meanwhile, the salary gap continues to grow worse. Each year,
OPM calculates gaps between Federal and private sector salaries
on a city by city, job by job basis, using BLS data. In spite of an
ongoing campaign to discredit their findings by various right-wing
think tanks, the data still tells a consistent story. They show Federal salaries are an average of 35 percent lower.
If the purpose of the pay freeze was to extend the pain of the recession to an aircraft mechanic at Malmstrom Air Force Base, or
a Border Patrol Agent at Havre Sector, or a claims representative
in the Missoula Social Security office, then it was a rousing success, sir.
Between the pay freeze, temporary layoffs from sequestration,
and the shutdown, we heard from our members who fell behind on
the rent, were about to have their cars repossessed, or were not
able to pay for day care. Worse were the calls from those in danger
of losing their jobs because falling behind on bills threatened their
security clearances.
Last falls 16-day government shutdown, or lockout, as I choose
to refer to it was, was the financial last straw for many workers.
While everyone eventually got back pay after it was over, the delay
in getting their paychecks had lasting consequences for many workers. These are real people who suffered real harm, not pawns on
a political chess board. It is not right, and we all know it.
So, how could morale in Federal employees be anything but extremely low under these circumstances? Well, the American people
are extremely lucky, because Federal employees are devoted and a
resilient bunch of people. They are sick and tired of being a political punching bag and an ATM, but they love their country, they
love their jobs, and they are profoundly dedicated to the agencies
and their missions that they serve.
Austerity budgets make it all but impossible for Federal workers
to keep up productivity and carry out the missions of the agencies.
Whether it is Border Patrol Agents without enough staff to keep
drug smugglers out of the country, or the United States Depart-

ment of Agriculture (USDAs) plans to speed up the line at chicken
processing plants so Federal inspectors cannot guarantee food safety, or VA physicians with patient loads of 2,000 instead of the best
practices of a standard of 1,200, sequestrations and cost cutting reduces productivity and service.
Mr. Chairman, my written statement addresses many other
issues, but in closing, let me thank you for your strong support for
the Federal workforce, and I would be happy to take any questions.
Senator TESTER. Thanks, David, and you did a good job of hitting
on the key Montana sectors. [Laughter.]
Colleen, you are up next.

Ms. KELLEY. Chairman Tester, thank you very much for inviting
me to testify today.
Wherever I go, my members talk to me about how difficult it has
become to accomplish the tasks that are required of them. The No.
1 problem is that there are not enough employees to do the work
that needs to be done. Employees leave and no one is hired to replace them.
Although the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act changed the
amounts of 2014 and 2015 funding, cuts will still be needed in the
years of 2016 to 2021 due to the sequester funding levels in place
under the Budget Control Act. Unless the sequester is ended, it is
going to have a crushing impact on jobs and on economic growth
and it will cripple the ability of the government to deliver services
to the American public.
As you noted in your opening statement, sequestration has made
it much more difficult for the Federal workforce to do its job and
to complete its missions. If Congress wants an efficient and effective government, and I say if, then it needs to end the sequester
and to provide resources for adequate personnel and training.
Due primarily to the sequester funding levels, the IRS today has
10,000 fewer workers than it had just 4 years ago. The work has
not decreased. If anything, it has increased. The IRSs ability to
continue helping taxpayers to meet their obligations and to generate revenue to fund the government has been severely challenged
due to the funding reductions and the cuts mandated by sequestration. This forced the IRS to furlough its employees without pay last
year and to not backfill vacancies. According to the IRS, the sequester cuts have resulted in the inability of millions of taxpayers
to get answers from the IRS call centers and Taxpayer Assistance
Centers and has significantly delayed IRSs responses to taxpayer
The IRS is not an exception, unfortunately. The loss of personnel
throughout the government and the inability of agencies to fill positions due to lack of funds severely affects not only the mission of
the agencies, but the morale of the civil service. Under the sequester funding levels, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is facing
severe challenges in accomplishing its vital missions of helping to
secure our Nations borders and facilitating vital trade. Under1 The

prepared statement of Ms. Kelley appears in the Appendix on page 76.

staffed ports lead to long delays in our commercial lanes as cargo
waits to enter U.S. Commerce. The cumulative loss in output due
to border delays over the next 10 years is estimated to be $86 billion.
In addition to cuts to agency funding, Federal employees have
seen their compensation diminish by $138 billion over the last few
years in the name of deficit reduction. They endured the 3-year pay
freeze, pay reductions due to unpaid furloughs, and new hires have
seen increases in their pension contributions. Now, despite that
disproportionate burden, the 2015 budget that was passed by the
House of Representatives calls for an additional $125 billion more
in cuts to Federal employees.
Over the last 3 years, legislation has been introduced which
sought to significantly decrease the benefits of Federal retirement
systems. Discussions leading up to passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act included similar proposals. These kinds of assaults contribute to the low morale of the Federal workforce.
Today, new Federal employees hired must contribute 15.05 percent of their salary right off the top for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Social Security, TSP, and Medicare
15.05 percent. That is too much, and the recent increases in employee contributions for the modest pension that is offered under
FERS must be reversed.
We have heard that President Obama has recommended a 1-percent pay raise for 2015. NTEU believes that number is insufficient.
We have recommended to Congress that a 3.3 percent pay raise
should be passed. This would be a small catch-up for a group of
employees being asked to do a lot more with a lot less.
Last October 1, when the government shutdownand we have
had some conversations here today about thatin those 16 days,
the OMB report noted the impact on the cost of the shutdown, talking about patients who could not enroll in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost $4 billion in tax refunds
that were delayed, health and safety inspections canceled, and
travel and tourism disrupted at National Parks, all hurting the
local economies. For Federal employees, the shutdown was just another indication that Congress does not place importance on the
work that they do. It is estimated that the lost productivity of the
furloughed Federal employees cost our country over $2 billion in
those 16 days.
The people who I represent all believe that we should have the
most efficient and effective government possible and they work to
achieve that every day. They want to work in an environment that
respects them and that gives them the tools they need to do their
work and that encourages them to do things in new and more productive ways. NTEU is asking for your support, and we know,
Chairman Tester, that we can count on your support. We would
look to that support from all of Congress to create this environment
for Federal employees.
Thank you again for the opportunity, and I welcome any questions you have.
Senator TESTER. Thank you, Colleen. You brought up a lot of
good issues. Sequestration, it does need to end. It is a hammer
being held over our heads. Carol Bonosaro.


Ms. BONOSARO. Thank you, Chairman Tester, for the opportunity

to testify today. As you know, the Senior Executive Association represents the nearly 7,000 career members of the Senior Executive
Service. Many of the challenges facing the SES are the same as
those of the Federal workforce as a whole: Budget cuts, fallout from
pay freezes, furloughs, and the government shutdown and sagging
morale. But, some issues are unique to the SES due to their position in government and their separate personnel and pay-for-performance systems, and I will focus on those today.
If you ask senior executives about the state of the SES workforce,
which we recently did, the responses highlight problems that require immediate attention. They said, There is not a company in
the world that would institute pay freezes, deny or limit performance bonuses, continually criticize senior executives, politicize mistakes by agencies and blow them all out of proportion, and at the
same time expect us to work long hours, recruit top talent, and
continue to be positive about the future of government.
Another said, My best colleagues are retiring in disgust and the
best GS15s do not see a reason to go into the SES. Morale is excellent with regard to carrying out our mission, but the under-appreciation and outright disdain demonstrated regarding our contributions is a significant drain on morale.
Regarding the SES performance system, It is untimely, burdensome, and did not recognize great performance. My agency will lose
nearly 20 percent of our scientific and professional core in 1 year
to retirement and resignations. It started with furloughs, and the
pay and performance issues put it over the top.
These comments paint a picture of a demoralized executive core.
Indeed, 51 percent of our members reported morale as low or very
low. With SES retirement up 40 percent since 2009 and fewer GS
15s aspiring to the SES, recruitment and retention should be
among the top priorities of Congress and the Administration.
A strong SES is critical to effective agency operations and workforce management. Senior executives are highly qualified professionals who oversee sizable agency budgets and complex programs
and have a large span of control.
Senior executives who have earned the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for Outstanding Contributions include managing a DOD global information grid, a network which extends into
90 countries, assuring its infrastructure under all conditions and
providing all the way to the foxhole service, expanding information
support by over 90 times that of Desert Storm I; developing the
after-hours tele-nurse triage program, which provides clinical telephone care services to seven networks of hospitals in multiple time
zones; establishing Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations, leading to 1,200 defendants charged for falsely billing Medicare over
$3.5 billion.
Many of the challenges of the career executive core, as well as
areas of needed reform, are outlined in my testimony, but one issue
deserves particular attention, the pay and performance system cre1 The

prepared statement of Ms. Bonosaro appears in the Appendix on page 83.

ated in 2004. All SES pay adjustments are discretionary and based
on performance. Annual performance ratings are based on standards which focus on measurable results, and high performers are
considered for performance awards. But unlike GS employees, they
do not receive locality pay or cost-of-living increases, and nearly
one-quarter of the SES make equal to or less than their General
Schedule subordinates.
As any senior executive will tell you, it is not about the pay. If
it were, they would be working in the private sector. But coupled
with the other challenges facing the SES and the workforce as a
whole, it does serve as a major detractor to recruitment, retention,
and high morale.
We would be pleased to work with the Subcommittee to implement meaningful reforms, including ending downward pressure on
performance awards, strengthening the timeliness and transparency of the system, and putting stability back by restoring locality pay and providing annual increases based on GS increases to
those executives rated fully successful or higher.
Despite the challenges in the SES system, executives are strongly committed to serving the taxpayer and meeting agency mission.
We must restore respect and support for the men and women in
the SES and equivalent positions who give so much of themselves
for the government and the American people and who ask only to
be treated fairly.
Senator TESTER. Thank you very much, Carol. We appreciate
your testimony.
Max, you are up.

Mr. STIER. Thank you, Chairman. It is Public Service Recognition Week. Thank you for sponsoring the resolution here in the
Senate. This is, again, a great hearing that you are holding.
One of the things I want to start with is just to say that today
we honored 33 amazing Federal employees that are doing exceptional work for the American public that need to be recognized, and
if I could submit that for the record,2 that would be terrific.
Senator TESTER. So done.
Mr. STIER. Outside of the great people that you have in the Federal workforce, frankly, the system is not giving them what they
need. The system is failing them. In my testimony, I want to do
two things quickly. The first is to look at the Federal Employee
Viewpoint Survey, data and see what is really wrong and then
make five suggestions about things that could happen right now
that would make a difference.
I am going to look at five questions from the survey and give you
the governmentwide average, and then I am going to look at the
lowest-rated agency in the government and the highest, because
that differential and what it shows is really important, which is
that great leadership can make a huge difference but bad leadership can make a big difference, too.
1 The

prepared statement of Mr. Stier appears in the Appendix on page 92.

submitted by Mr. Stier appears in the Appendix on page 102.

2 Information

On leadership itself, 38.5 percent of Federal employees governmentwide believe that their leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment. Basically, only a third of them. That number
is 73.5 percent at the Surface Transportation Board and only 8.6
percent at the Economic Development Administration at Commerce, which is a huge discrepancy.
On having the right talent, 38.8 percent of Federal employees
governmentwide say their work unit is able to recruit people with
the right skills. Again, just basically a third. That goes to 78.7 percent at the Stennis Space Center at NASA, the top-ranked subcomponent in government, and is 13.5 percent at the Office of Solid
Waste and Emergency Response at the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Another huge discrepancy.
On performance management, 43.4 percent of Federal employees
governmentwide say they are rewarded for doing good work, very
low relative to the private sector. That number is almost 80 percent
at the Surface Transportation Board, and only 23.9 percent at the
Office of Post-Secondary Education.
Twenty-nine-point-four percent of Federal employees governmentwide believe that promotions in their work unit are based on
merit, fewer than 3 out of 10, which is a pretty shocking number.
It is almost 75 percent at PTO and 12 percent at U.S. Army Central.
Very importantly, will the results of the survey be used to improve your workplace? Do employees believe agencies are actually
doing anything with their views? Only a third of Federal employees
say yes governmentwide. Again, that is close to three-quarters at
Stennis and only 10 percent at the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. We should have Senator Portman here to hear that one.
This sends a clear message that our workforce is saying that the
system they are operating in is not working. But, you do see extraordinary leadership beating the odds and poor leadership doing
a lot worse. I think there is a lot to be learned across government.
In general, the system we have is broken. We put out a report
that I hope you will take a look at recommending that we overhaul
the way we hire people, the way we pay them, and the way we
manage them. The Senate spent 12 days in 1978, the last time that
there was a substantial overhaul of the avil service system, looking
at these issues in public hearings12 days and seven markups in
the Senate alone. I think that this issue really requires that kind
of attention.
But before you get there, there are five things that could be done
in the here and now that would make a big difference. We have
heard about direct hire. What is the standard for direct hire today?
You have to show that there is a shortage of minimally-qualified
talent in order to be able to qualify for direct hire authority rather
than what it should be, which is a shortage of highly qualified talent. That should be the standard for the people we want in government. That change would make a big difference. That is No. 1.
No. 2, we should allow agencies to share their certification lists.
For example, if we are looking for cyber talent, which we need
across government, if one agency, say, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), finds 10 amazing cyber professionals and only
wants to hire five of them, the Department of Defense cannot hire

the remaining five off the DHS list. The Defense Department will
have to go back into the marketplace and go through the whole
process again. We are not treating the government like an enterprise. It is foolish. This is an easy change that would make a big
No. 3, we need to update the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. We should require that OPM do it annually and the data
turned around as quickly as possible so agencies receive the information and can act on it. We also need data by occupation. We
should be able to look at the job satisfaction cyber professionals at
every agency and compare them across all government. We do not
have that ability right now.
No. 4, we should be holding leaders accountable in their performance plans for taking steps to improve employee satisfaction. We
need to learn from other agencies. The Department of Transportation (DOT) did that to great effect. That requirement should
apply to both career and political leadership.
Finally, we believe that for the Senior Executive Service, and
this is something that I would love to have the conversation with
Carol about, we should be supporting more mobility in the SES.
Only 8 percent of the SES members change agencies once they join
the SES. We should be encouraging more mobility, and we argue
that there should be a requirement that before you can get into the
SES, you must have worked in multiple agencies, multiple levels
of the government, or multiple sectors, so you really have that
broad view about what is possible to achieve to have the success
that we need.
So, thank you very much for your time and I look forward to answering questions.
Senator TESTER. Well, thank you for your testimony, Max, and
thank you all for your testimony.
I will just keep going with you. You do not need to repeat yourself, but you listed five things that could be done, Max, to help the
hiring process. This may be a better question for my staff than you,
but I will ask it anyway. Can these things be done administratively?
Mr. STIER. Most things cannot be. There are some things that
could be changed administratively, and based on the discrepancies
between agencies there is a lot of possibility within the existing
framework. But these are mainly legislative hurdles that need to
be fixed, and that could be fixed relatively quickly in a targeted
Senator TESTER. Can you tell me the reason why you would not
allow agencies to share the certification list for new employees?
Why would that be there?
Mr. STIER. The reason why it exists is a bad one: the Office of
Personnel Management used to have full authority to do all hiring
governmentwide. It was hiring by exam and there was an enterprise approach. It then delegated its authority to individual agencies. OPM said, Department of Defense, you can go ahead and assess talent and make your own hiring decisions.
But the interpretation of the law meant that you could not delegate the authority to hire for Department of Homeland Security to
the Department of Defense, and therefore, you could not share cer-

tifications lists. I do not know if that interpretation is the right interpretation. That is the interpretation of the law. But there is no
good reason for that barrier.
Senator TESTER. Got you.
Mr. STIER. It is a product of historical accident. It could be
changed by Congress and would make a real difference.
Senator TESTER. It does not make a lot of sense to me.
Mr. STIER. Yes.
Senator TESTER. I will start at the other end of the table with
you, David. The previous panel talked about how long it took to
hire folks. This does not go into a lot of the points that you brought
up, but I am just curious, from your perspective, and I will go down
the line and ask you all. I mean, you have heard anything from 45
to 90 days. I did not hear anything longer, although they said the
higher-level stuff could take longer, too. Is that an appropriate
amount of time, especially when you are comparing it with the private sector? I mean, are you guys OK with that or not?
Mr. COX. I think speeding up the hiring process is always in everyones interest. Now, where I would have concerns, it is the Federal Government. We want to make sure that people are hired
through an appropriate process, that we do not create the
Senator TESTER. That is right.
Mr. COX [continuing]. And those type things and politicize the
Federal workforce. So, AFGE is always interested in trying to decrease the hiring time, but, Senator, I have to point out again, until
we give Federal employees a raise, it is going to get more and more
difficult to hire them and the wait is going to be longer.
Senator TESTER. I got you. That is good.
Colleen, would you like to address the time? By the way, I appreciate both comments. The comment on politicizing the jobs is something that does set the Federal Government a little different than
the private sector. Go ahead.
Ms. KELLEY. I think if agencies are hiring within a 45-to 90-day
timeframe, that would be a huge improvement over the past.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. KELLEY. I would welcome that.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. KELLEY. I know there are some agencies, when I talk to employees from the first time they submitted their application to
when they were hired, it is a couple of years.
Senator TESTER. Again
Ms. KELLEY. And that makes me worry that we are losing an
awful lot of good candidates.
Senator TESTER. Yes, I agree.
Carol, would you like to address it.
Ms. BONOSARO. Well, I will address it from the perspective of the
Senior Executive Service.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. BONOSARO. I mean, obviously, they are the folks who are
concerned about the workforce that they are managing and these
long hiring times are of concern. But in terms of SES jobs, in particular, the one thing we do know is that agencies have expressed
concern from time to time about Qualifications Review Boards

(QRBs), which we think are essential. They do not take that much
time. What we do know about the process is that the delays occur
at the agency level, and very often as those higher-level positions,
those hires up the line for approval, and that is where the delay
is. And so we have that particular issue as well as the concern, and
I think it is very real, about agencies being inundated with an
enormous number of applications and just having the person power
and the processes to sort through those effectively.
Senator TESTER. Good, Carol.
Max, do you want to
Mr. STIER. I think we are focused on the wrong thing.
Senator TESTER. OK.
Mr. STIER. We should be focused on quality of hire, not time to
hire. Time to hire may chase away some talent, but at the end of
the day, the Federal Government has a real challenge in identifying what the right attributes are to make sure they are getting
the right person. Carols point about the volume of applications is
one of the challenges that agencies face.
They are also not using the smart techniques that other organizations do. For example, Senator Portman raised the point that
only 7 percent of the Federal workforceis under the age of 30,
compared to 23 percent in the general workforce. The Federal Government does not use student interns like most organizations do.
They convert 6 percent of student interns into full-time employees
rather than a benchmark of about 50 to 75 percent that you would
see in other organizations that are doing this well. That means
government is missing out on one of the best ways of determining
good quality. You get a chance to work with somebody, you have
an opportunity to see if they are right for the job in a way that no
other screening mechanism is going to tell you.
I think the attention is focused on time to hire because it is
something people can count. But the quality of hire is much more
important, and we should be focusing more on that.
Senator TESTER. OK. Thank you. Senator Begich.
Senator BEGICH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very
much for the opportunity.
It is interesting. I was just going to make a comment, Max. We
have in my office, and I am sure Senator Tester, also, but in my
office, we use interns and we are probably 25, 30 percent hire out
of the intern pool.
Mr. STIER. Yes.
Senator BEGICH. I mean, we just see a high value, and they are
all very young, let us just say. [Laughter.]
But, we are very happy and they are a great talent and they are
coming with great experiences as interns. But, I think we are about
25 percent, 30
Mr. STIER. Six percent in the Federal Government.
Senator BEGICH. Yes. That is a problem.
Let me also ask a general question, and then I want to ask a
very specific question on windfall elimination provision issues that
deal withI know it is kind of a pocket issue, but it is one that
I know impacts, and I am going to ask Colleen and others who may
want to respond on that.

But the first, one area that I think we can improve on, and tell
me if I am wrong on this, it seems like when we lose talent, or talent is retiring, getting ready to retire, we have to wait for them to
retire. Then we work to fill the position. And then we hire them
back as consultants to train the person we just hired to fill their
What we did when I was mayor, I do not know what the term
is here, but we called it double-filling. So, basically, you would have
the same Personnel Control Number (PCN), a position. The person
would occupy it. We would double-fill it, which would be an economic issue, but we would double-fill it, and the purpose of that
would be then that this person who is retiring has an opportunity
to train someone in that same position, so then when we move that
person into retirement, we have a smoother segue.
Do you think that is a value or could be a value in the Federal
Government? It seems like we always have these gaps and we are
hiring everybody back as consultants to train or fill the gap while
we are trying to find the people to fill the position. Do you think
this double-hiring may be helpful? I see, like Air Traffic Controllers, I think in these positions that you do not really want a lot of
gaps or you are going to have some other situations. Does anyone
want to respond to that? Max.
Mr. STIER. There is actually authority that was recently passed
for what is called phased retirement.
Senator BEGICH. Right.
Mr. STIER. That enabled people to, move out of the workplace in
a more planned, thoughtful way and they are supposed to mentor
new talent coming in.
Senator BEGICH. Are they using it?
Mr. STIER. No.
Senator BEGICH. OK. So, it has passed but they are not using it.
Got it. So, I am sorry, Carol.
Ms. BONOSARO. No, I think you raise generally a concern we
have with regard to certainly succession planning, given the increased retirements of senior executives, their high eligibility to retire, and the importance not just of succession planning, but for onboarding of those who do come into those positions, especially in
the first probationary year. No matter what training they have
had, they are going to face issues and problems that they had not
anticipated. So, the mentoring and the coaching that should be
available during that year is very important. Though, overall, our
biggest concern, frankly, is the next generation
Senator BEGICH. Right.
Ms. BONOSARO [continuing]. And whether people of quality, really high-quality candidates, as Max has suggested, are going to
want these jobs, because there are so many detractors right now.
Senator BEGICH. Thank you. Very good. Let mego ahead.
Ms. KELLEY. I think the idea of double-encumbering to train is
a smart one from a just common sense perspective and a textbook
perspective. The agencies where I represent employees do not have
the money to backfill the vacancies they have
Senator BEGICH. That is the issue.
Ms. KELLEY [continuing]. Much less double-encumber. Now,
many of them have occupations where there are multiple employ-

ees in the occupation. There is no reason they could not fill the vacant position and then use the employees who are here to train.
Senator BEGICH. Got it.
Ms. KELLEY. And, I would also say, to implement this phased retirement. I mean, we are waiting for the final regulations from
OPM, but all the things I am hearing from agencies is there is
going to be a great reluctance to implement this, and that would
be a tragedy. We worked for 5 years to get this passed because it
was smart for the agencies and good for the workforce.
Senator BEGICH. Right.
Ms. KELLEY. So, I am hoping that it will be implemented as intended, but right now, I am not seeing those signs.
Senator BEGICH. OK. Let me
Mr. COX. Senator, I think one of the best example I know are the
claims examiners in the VA. If you hired one today, it takes 2 years
from today before that person is able to function at a journeyman
level. There is no pre-training that you can do. It has to be all onthe-job training. VA, as both of you well know, has been underfunded, not able to continue to add more claims examiners, knowing that 30, 40 percent of their current workforce could disappear
within the next 5 years and that it would take 2 years to bring
those people up to speed.
So, I think trying to get work-arounds in Congress where agencies can double-encumber those jobs, realizing that you are going
to have to be able to do that on-the-job training. You can hire a
physician or a nurse at the VA tomorrow, bring them in, give them
orientation. They can function in a short period of time. But, there
are many jobs, like claims examiners there, Social Security, Department of Labor, where it is all on-the-job training, and that is
going to be a serious situation that is already a crisis.
Senator BEGICH. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, could I just take a
few, just to
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Senator BEGICH. My next issue, and this is on the windfall, I
know, Colleen, you have worked on this. You have testified in other
issues as to the windfall elimination provision, which, as you know,
deprives working people their kind of fair share of Social Security
they have earned, not that is given to them. They have earned it.
I have sponsored a bipartisan bill, S. 896, to kind of solve this
When you look at this issueit is amazing to me, every time I
bring this up to people, they do not see it, I mean, the fact that
many employees are impacted by it. Folks work for the government. The government did not pay in Social Security, but yet then
they go and work a second job. Maybe it is part-time, maybe it is
full-time or a second career. They pay into Social Security. They
pay like everyone else. They get their 40 units of credit.
Then, when they get to time to retire, they find out, well, that
is great, except now so you have this other retirement and we are
going to deduct against your Social Security, which is amazing to
me, that peoplebut yet I could have three private sector job retirements and I do not get any deduction against my Social Security. But, because you worked for the governmentsome, not all,
as you knowyou get penalized. It makes no sense to me.

Can you justfirst offanyone can respond to this, but I want
to tap Colleen, because I know you have talked about this before
but give me a sense from your union. I am assuming you support
this type of legislation
Ms. KELLEY. Absolutely.
Senator BEGICH [continuing]. To fix this once and for all.
Ms. KELLEY. Yes, and we are very grateful you have introduced
this legislation, Senator. It has been a long time that this has penalized Federal employees, and
Senator BEGICH. And State employees.
Senator BEGICH. In my case, teachers are getting penalized left
and right.
Ms. KELLEY. And it is very real money. It is not $10 and $20.
I mean, for some in the formula, they can lose their entire Social
Security benefit
Senator BEGICH. Right.
Ms. KELLEY [continuing]. And it could impact them in the $800,
$900 a month range, which really affects just their ability to live.
Senator BEGICH. And this is Social Securitymake sure I am
saying this rightthat they have paid into, got their credits like
everyone else
Ms. KELLEY. Yes.
Senator BEGICH. They expected a certain amount of money, and
they get penalized, really, because they had two jobs.
Ms. KELLEY. Yes.
Senator BEGICH. And, because that one job did not pay into Social Security but they had a different kind of retirement system,
they get penalized. Am I saying that right?
Ms. KELLEY. Yes, and that is the windfall
Senator BEGICH. I know this is what it means.
Ms. KELLEY. No, you are right. You got it.
Senator BEGICH. I am just leading it because it is so logicI
mean, it just does not make any sense.
Ms. KELLEY. I knew you had it right when I saw your proposed
legislation [Laughter.]
Which we vehemently support, yes.
Senator BEGICH. Well, I do not know if anyone else
Ms. KELLEY. Thank you.
Senator BEGICH. No, thank you. I do not know if anyone else
my assumption is, when people learn about this, it also is a problem for people who say, gee, I have worked maybe a Social Security
job. Now they look at the Federal Government and say, I would
like to work there, but how is this going to affect my retirement,
because maybe they are in their mid-40s, 50, and they have gotten
their 40 credits of Social Security, but then they go over here and
they realize, you mean I am going to get deducted here? They have
to put that into their calculation, right, when they are looking at
job opportunities for the Federal Government.
Ms. KELLEY. Yes.
Senator BEGICH. Does anyone else want to quickly respond to
that? I mean, I just find it so outrageous. Part of my view is, give
them their money back, then, with interest, if you are going to take
it away from them after they earned it.

Mr. COX. You know that AFGE strongly supports this, sir.
Senator BEGICH. I know, yes.
Mr. COX. Strongly supports it.
Senator BEGICH. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you giving me a little discussion on
that. It is why I introduced the bill and why it has good bipartisan
support. But, it is just amazing to me that hard-working folks, because they did two jobs, three jobs, I mean, teachers in my State,
same situation. They get penalized. And a lot of teachers, as you
know, a former member of the school board, you know what it
means that you need a summer job. They are doing something and
getting another income stream, because maybe that teachers salary is not doing enough for their large family or their growing family, and it is mind-boggling to me. But, thank you very much for
your comments.
Ms. KELLEY. Thank you.
Senator BEGICH. Thanks for all of you being here. Mr. Chairman,
thanks for holding this hearing.
Senator TESTER. Senator Begich, I appreciate you offering that
bill, too. I think it is one of thosenot little, if you are impacted
big things that sends just the wrong message to the folks about
their worth to, whether you are talking teachers, to our kids, or
whether it is some other area.
I want to talk about a Postal reform piece of legislation that
came out that I know that you folks have spent some time reviewing. It recently passed out of Committee with some changes to the
Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). The provision would
count Workers Compensation for all Federal employees, not just
Postal workers, and I have expressed my concerns about cutting
disability benefits at retirement age across the Federal workforce.
Those of you that want to comment on that, I think there are
studies out that show that it would disproportionately hurt the
low-wage earners that are in the Federal workforce. Could you
highlight the potential impact of that cut that is in that Postal legislation, if you might, those of you that feel comfortable in addressing it, and what the long-term impactsand short-term impacts
could be.
Mr. COX. Senator, having worked in the VA many years, I saw
nursing assistants get severe back injuries that they lost their entire quality of life. These are GS5 employees. By helping veterans,
they were injured through no fault of their own.
Senator TESTER. Right.
Mr. COX. And, to cut those benefits for someone who has been
injured on the job, that is just not right, sir.
Senator TESTER. OK.
Mr. COX. It is not right. And, I agree with you. I think it would
affect a lot of lower-grade employees. Yes, maybe a physician could
do some form of work if they had some type of back injury, but a
nursing assistant is going to have to lift patients all day long.
Senator TESTER. Right.
Mr. COX. So, it is not one of those things thatsome jobs, you
just cannot do forever.
Senator TESTER. OK. Would anybody else like to comment on

Let me talkI did not get into contracting much with Ms.
Archuleta and the last panel, but it is an area that I have got some
concerns about. I would like to get your guys perspective. Maybe
my concerns are real, maybe they are not. I think my perspective
is there is a place for it, but I think at this point in time, it is being
overused and it has affected some of the jobs that have to be done
with less accountability. And, quite frankly, a lot of these are government functions that need to happen.
Could you guys talk about contracting versus the Federal workforce and where we are, from your perspective, overall, if we are
contracting out too much or if the balance is right. Go ahead,
Mr. COX. Senator, I believe the Congress passed in-sourcing legislation several years ago.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Mr. COX. I have met with OMB on several occasions, asking for
their guidance to in-source work and as of yet have not been able
to get that guidance.
Senator TESTER. OK.
Mr. COX. Agencies tell us they are looking for guidance to insource work. I met yesterday at the Department of Labor with the
new Secretary there. They in-sourced work just a couple years ago
that saved the government over $5 million, and it was just bringing
in work of 126 employees saved the Federal Government over $5
million, and the Secretary made a strong commitment to continue
to look and to do an inventory of the work that had been contracted
out, and I have the statistics. He has over $2 billion in service contracts. He appreciated me bringing that to his attention and made
a commitment. But, I think you get the better bang for the buck
when you have Federal employees doing it.
Senator TESTER. Would anybody else like to comment on contracting versus Federal employees? Colleen, Carol, or Max. Max, go
Mr. STIER. There is no question that there are a lot of things that
are being contracted out that should not be, and my view is that
one of the strong reasons for this is that the system we have is
making suboptimal choices the right thing for people to do.
Let me give you an example. We talked about the hiring process.
When the hiring process is broken and it is difficult for people to
get the right talent inside agencies, it creates a big incentive to
look outside government where you can contract for that service
and not have to go through the crazy hiring process.
Senator TESTER. Got you.
Mr. STIER. I believe that a lot of poor choices are being made because of the system failures that we have. In essence, we need to
change that system and by doing that, we will have a more costeffective government, more work will be done inside government,
and smarter choices will be made.
Senator TESTER. Yes. All right. Go ahead.
Ms. KELLEY. Last summer, during the sequestration, I found it
highly offensive that agencies were paying contractors while they
were also serving unpaid furlough notices to front-line employees
who do the work of our country every day. Now, what I also saw
was agencies started looking closer at their contracts that were out

there, because, for the most part, they were trying to minimize the
number of unpaid furlough days. But, they took a look at things
I think they should have looked at 3, 4, and 5 years ago.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. KELLEY. So, I think that has to continue now, that scrub of
that list or whatever they want to call it. But, I do not think that
the balance is right yet. I think there is still a lot of work out there
that should be done by front-line employees. And, as importantly,
in these years with very tight budgets, I think that money should
be looked at to be spent on front-line employees who are doing the
mission work of the agency.
Senator TESTER. Good. Carol.
Ms. BONOSARO. I would like to add to that. I think that one of
the things that would help a great deal, but I do not expect to see
it in my lifetime, is the ability to manage the budget and stop
counting heads and full-time equivalents. That is what also helps
drive contracting.
The other issue, I think, that we have never really entirely resolved, unless I have missed it, is the issue of what is inherently
governmental. A number of years ago, we had an OMB Director
who famously announced at one of our conferences that if you could
find it in the Yellow Pages, the government should not be doing it.
And I said, well, there are lots of attorneys in the Yellow Pages,
too, but we have never really addressed that question head-on, either.
Senator TESTER. Yes.
Ms. BONOSARO. So, I think all of this comes together in a way
that results in probably a lot more contracting than might otherwise be the case.
Senator TESTER. Yes. I would agree. I think it is an issue that
we need to address as a Congress, quite frankly, because, from my
perspective, I think they may be doing a great job in many cases,
but the whole thing with uses and the lack of accountability, if that
did not get your attention, nothing will.
I just want to thank you guys for your testimony and your
straightforwardness in answering the questions. We have covered
a fair amount of ground today. It is clear that we have some work
to do. Whether it is to recruit, to build, or retain a skilled and highly capable Federal workforce, we have our hands full.
As I said earlier, if we seek an effective and efficient government,
we need to ensure that Federal workers are able to make a living
at their jobs and we need to ensure they have the opportunity to
grow and feel valued. I think this hearing offers some ways we
could do that. I look forward to working with not only the Ranking
Member, but any of our colleagues on this Subcommittee or the
Committee as a whole on these issues.
The hearing record is going to remain open for 15 days for any
additional comments or questions.
Once again, I very much appreciate both the first panel, but you
guys, since you are here, taking time out of your busy schedule to
be here and give us your input. I look forward to working with you
all to move the Federal workforce issue.
And, finally, I will just say this. I have two jobs in this world.
I am a U.S. Senator from Montana, but I also farm, and whether

we like to call ourselves truly independent people in agriculture or
not, we depend a lot on Farm Service Agency employees to make
sure that we get the information so we can make informed decisions. David brought up the Border Patrol. We talked about VA.
You can go down the list, Postal employees, just go down the list.
Every day, something is touchedour lives are touched by a Federal employee. And if that Federal employee feels valued, I can tell
you, just as in my job, if I feel valued, you are going to do a much
better job.
Thank you all for being here, and this Committee hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:46 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]